The August 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Researchers, Hobbyists Developing Flying Grasping Robots

Researchers have been working on clever flying robots that can pick things up, and hobbyists are getting into the game as well

2 min read
Researchers, Hobbyists Developing Flying Grasping Robots

Last week, we brought you a bunch of different videos of aerial grasping robots, including robots from DARPA, UPenn, and Yale. Perhaps in response (or just because it's really freakin' cool), we've had a couple people write in with flying grasping robots of their own, including researchers from University of Twente in the Netherlands, and a scruffy-looking hobbyist from Trossen Robotics.

This first vid comes from the University of Twente, in the Netherlands. It's part of the AIRobots project, the goal of which is ::deep breath:: "to develop a new generation of aerial service robots capable to support human beings in all those activities which require the ability to interact actively and safely with environments not constrained on ground but, indeed, freely in air."

Indeed!

This particular AIRobot is being developed by professor Stefano Stramigiol, Raffaella Carloni, postdoc Matteo Fumagalli and Ph.D. student Abeje Y. Mersha.

[ AIRobots ]

 

 

It's kind of amazing how, just in the last few years, plummeting hardware costs and skyrocketing capabilities (which together are enough to give any sane roboticists severe motion sickness) have enabled the group of geniuses that we like to call "hobbyists" keep more or less up with just about whatever the latest research is, at least when it comes to the hardware itself.

Andrew Alter, one of the instigators of Mech Warfare and current senior executive robot geek at Trossen, writes:

I designed a modified PhantomX Hexapod and we built it out of carbon fiber so it'd be light enough to fly. Some friends at Mad Lab Industries are quadcopter gurus so building the rest of the custom hexacopter was a breeze.

Maybe a breeze for you guys, but coming up with what is essentially a hexacopter duct-taped to a hexapod that works is no small feat, as far as we're concerned. Check it:

Developing robots that can fly and move along the ground has been a priority for the military for a while, because flying robots are versatile but suck down batteries like nobody's business, while ground robots are, well, stuck on the ground. While perhaps not the most efficient of compromises, the hexapodocopter is (let's face it) pretty sweet, and there has to be some potential there just for that reason. So if anyone from DARPA is reading this, how 'bout tossing these guys some grant money to see what they can come up with?

[ Mad Lab Industries ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

Keep Reading ↓Show less